Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Brace Yourself for the Unexpected

I’m noticing that more and more illnesses are coming with an adjacent diagnosis.  If it’s one thing we don’t want is two illnesses for the price of one.  Why do certain illnesses have co-diseases that are likely to show up?  Do we have the stamina to fight more than one battle at a time?  If we get one of the illnesses under control are we more likely to have the second illness recede?

The dual diagnosis of illness is not a given.  In most cases it is a small subset of people that actually get the secondary illness.  I’ve had an autoimmune disease for over thirty years.  Unfortunately, I’m one of a mere 5% that have arthritis secondary to my primary diagnosis.  What if I had those odds for winning the lottery?  I’d love to be one of the 5% who get a lump sum pay out.

Sometimes illness is like lining up a set of dominoes.  The first one gets knocked down and then the rest start falling in sequence.  This is one reason that creating a good medical team is important.  If your illnesses fall in two specialties, like mine, make sure that you create an open line of communication between the specialists.  They should each know what the other is recommending, administering, prescribing so they don’t work against each other.

It can be discouraging to have the secondary illness show up.  It’s hard to pinpoint the timing, for me I had one set of symptoms for years before the secondary diagnosis revealed itself.  The last thing we want in the world is to be a mystery to our doctors.  Make sure you get to tell your entire story before the doctor is allowed to make suggestions.  Everything is relevant when making the diagnosis, the onset, how long, when, where, could it have been in a milder form that you didn’t notice until it flared?  You’ll be surprised, as was I, that the symptoms for the secondary illness began long before I was incapacitated, I just wasn’t conscious to the signs.

I hope if you’re diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness that you only have to battle one.  I never would have thought to ask my doctor about secondary illness, it wasn’t part of my consciousness.  I just finished a book about a physician with Parkinson’s Disease and he was then diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease which is a form of dementia.  At the time of your diagnosis ask your doctor about possible secondary diagnosis that are often linked to your primary diagnosis.  Don’t be surprised, but don’t be paranoid about it either.  Know the signs so that if changes start to occur you can get treatment early and hopefully arrest the progression.

Posted in Having a Voice, Living with Illness

Medicine is Not Separate From Money

If you live in the United States you’re well aware of the ongoing debate about healthcare.  There is talk about Universal healthcare but if we’re talking about socialized medicine I’m not sure the insurance companies would allow that to happen.  There is no doubt that those with insurance and those with premium insurance are getting more costly procedures.  This became even more apparent to me this weekend on news reports of Christina Applegate’s diagnosis of breast cancer.

First let me say that I’m thankful that Ms. Applegate’s cancer was detected early.  What confused me was the method of diagnosis.  The news agencies all report that Ms. Applegate’s cancer was detected by a routine MRI.  I’ve been in the medical field for a very long time and I can assure you there is no such thing as a routine MRI.  Insurance providers try and hold off on paying for such procedures.  There are other tests that would have been completed first that are less costly, unless you have big name doctors, a great insurance plan or are willing to pay for the test out-of-pocket.

I guess the real concern is where is the truth in the story.  If there was another problem they were looking for and that was what instigated the MRI then say so, but don’t call an MRI routine.  How many individuals are going to their doctors asking for a routine MRI just like Ms. Applegate.  News agencies are reporting what they’re told, but they don’t seem to be questioning the MRI as long as they got the story about the cancer…isn’t that suspicious?

This is the reason that many need to have an advocate who will serve to empower you when going through a health challenge because unequal medical care results in death.  What will you do to request and if denied then demand certain procedures?  Are you willing to use your voice to get the healthcare you need?  I’d love to hear how you advocated for medical care of any kind?  Be an inspiration for the rest of the world!

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness, Self-Nurture

Choose To Be Happy

Welcome to another Caregiver Friday!

One of my favorite books is “The Traveler’s Gift” by Andy Andrews.  I’ve mentioned his book a number of times because I believe the lessons are simple and can be adapted to anyone’s life.  I was thinking about the caregivers I know and aside from being tired, many have present with a sense of defeat.  They know that the care they provide is important, but it’s certainly not the life they planned for.

In “The Traveler’s Gift” the main character meets with Anne Frank.  The lesson she presents is “Today I choose to be happy”.  I know that it may seem like a difficult idea to comprehend, but finding a way to rekindle and experience joy is crucial to caregiving.

Energy is like money.   Every day you are given a finite amount of energy.  The key question is how will you spend that energy today?  Financial experts will say that you should always pay yourself first and then divide the remaining money for creditors, in your case, those who need your caregiving attention.

What would you do to pay yourself first?  What activities or spiritual practices will you engage in to invest in you for today?  The bigger question is can you keep it up and continue investing in your own happiness.  You may think that there is a disconnect between your personal happiness and the care you give as a care provider.  The truth is the two are directly correlated.  When you give yourself the gift of time and the experience of happiness you develop physical and emotional resilience.  You learn to disconnect from the drama of day-to-day caregiving and awaken to a new set of priorities that benefit you and the recipient of your care.

My wish for you today is that you make the right choices that keeps you connected to your center.  I hope you find ways that inject happiness into your life so you get to experience the sunshine in the sky and in your heart.